(By Bob McCurdy) A quote by Brian Weiser, GroupM’s Global President of Business Intelligence, caught my attention recently. He was being interviewed in one of the trades and said, “Cannes (International Festival of Creativity held in France annually) has always been worth it. Even when I had to pay for it on my own dime. It’s just ridiculously effective to meet people from around the world.”
What stuck with me most was his “on my own dime” comment. The man paid his own way to France to participate in this 5-day conference. He was not allowing himself to be “denied” by an unreimbursed expense in his quest for professional growth and development. This attitude is likely why he has become the most quoted individual and one of the most respected executives in the advertising industry. He clearly recognized the importance of investing some of his own skin in his own career.
We expect our clients to investment spend, to not view advertising as an expense but as an investment in their business to ensure their continued prosperity. When pursuing our own careers shouldn’t we do the same by viewing certain unreimbursed professional expenditures not as an expense but as an investment? An investment that delivers returns that far surpass any mutual fund or stock over a similar period of time.
It’s this investment-versus-expense belief that impacts careers. Weiser’s comment got me to reflect upon some of my early-years career “investments,” where by any definition of discretionary income, I didn’t have any. Thankfully, I didn’t realize that.
The first week on the job, I ordered pens with my name, station calls, and phone number. My “line,” as I gave it to prospective clients, was that they had a lifetime guarantee: “If it runs out of ink? Call me.” Corny? Probably. But it worked and it enabled me to stand out.
Recognizing the importance of Arbitron “numbers” to my income, I hired a Butler University statistics professor to come to the station after hours for one-on-one tutoring twice weekly. I still use what he taught me today.
An agency was looking to spend big bucks in my market for the first time. The commission potential was substantial so I bought a plane ticket and flew to meet the buyer and ended up taking the majority of the budget in spite of having two mid-tier radio stations. Invested a couple of hundred of unreimbursed dollars to make a couple of thousand.
The Apple 11 personal computer had just come out. It was not cheap but I bit the bullet and bought it and learned to program various reach/frequency, frequency distribution, reach maximizing, and graphing programs and made them available for local agency use which separated me from the other local reps. I took it with me on my Katz interview. It wasn’t my personality that got me the job.
I always believed if I could talk like a PD on a sales call I’d be more convincing. I became aware of a trade publication geared toward programmers called Radio & Records. It was a dream come true for any radio geek who wanted to raise their sales game, as it provided tons of programming and format insight. It too was not cheap but it enabled me to approach radio sales from a different angle.
The point of citing these examples is to highlight the “not to be denied,” “on my own dime” mindset that pays short- and long-term dividends. None of these expenses were reimbursed. But every nickel has come back to me a thousand fold.
Today I would spend differently, generously investing in expanding my digital, marketing, and advertising expertise.
– Are there any trades that can enhance your knowledge of marketing or a client’s vertical that you currently don’t have access to?
– Any out-of-state (or in state), high-value agencies that should be visited immediately?
– Any industry conferences that would be helpful to attend?
– Any training, digital or otherwise, that would be prove beneficial?
The list goes on and the answer to all of the above is probably “yes.” So make a commitment to investment in your professional development.
The salespeople who ignore this advice usually end up working for those who embrace it. View yourself as the CEO of your own career. Don’t let unreimbursed expenses get in your way of maximizing your professional and economic success. Those unreimbursed expenses often turn out to be the best gifts you could ever give yourself.